NFL 2017: NFL Ratchets Up The Excitement
NFL 2017: NFL Ratchets Up The Excitement

Last season was full of excitement, and that should be no surprise this season. Unpredictability is the norm in today's NFL.

Close games and great comeback victories, new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions, consistent teams excelling once again, records falling and so much more.

The NFL never fails to surprise.

Last season featured many exciting games with close finishes, as 57 percent were decided by one score -- 146 of 256 games were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season since the NFL adopted the two-point conversion in 1994.

Games continued to have a flare for the dramatic, as tight contests frequently came down to the wire. In 2016, there were 72 games in which the winning team trailed at some point in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season in NFL history, surpassing the previous high of 70 in 1989.

The Detroit Lions won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter in 2016, the most in a single season in NFL history.

The 2017 season promises more of the same. Every team enters the new season with hope.

Six teams that missed the postseason in 2015 -- Atlanta Dallas (13-3), Detroit (9-7), Miami (10-6), the New York Giants (11-5) and Oakland (12-4) -- advanced to the playoffs. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The Cowboys rebounded to win the NFC East division title after fi nishing in last place in 2015, which marked the 13th time in the past 14 seasons that one or more teams went from last or tied for last place to a division championship the following year.

NFL teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:

Season Playoff Teams Not in Previous Season's Playoffs
Source: NFL
19907 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
19915 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
19926 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
19935 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
19945 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
19954 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
19965 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
19975 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
19985 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
19997 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
20006 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
20016 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
20025 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
20038 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
20045 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
20057 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
20067 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
20076 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
20087 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
20096 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
20105 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
20116 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
20124 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
20135 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
20145 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
20154 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
20166 (Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)


The NFL? Unpredictable!

Nothing exhibits the unpredictability of the NFL more than close games. Last season:

    More than half of all games were decided by one score.

    146 of 256 games (57.0 percent) were decided by eight points or fewer, the most in any season in NFL history.

    135 of 256 games (52.7 percent) were decided by seven points or fewer, the most in any season in NFL history.

    72 percent of games (184 of 256) were within eight points fourth quarter, the highest percentage since the institution two-point conversion in 1994.

    170 of the season's 256 games (66.4 percent) were within seven points in the fourth quarter, the most in any season in NFL history.

    The average margin of victory was 10.23 points per game, the third-smallest margin in NFL history and the lowest figure since 1935 (10.08 points per game).

    72 games were won by teams that trailed in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season in NFL history.

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